What do you do if you have just finished your first draft of a story, and it's really more than a first draft. You are now polishing and layering a bit more into it. But it's formed, with beginning, middle, end. Characters are all there doing their thing, action all the rest of it.
And you start reading a book by a fabulously well-known author and you realise
This reminds me of my book. And you keep reading, and every few chapters you go
FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCK
I am somehow connected psychically to this person on the other side of the world.
Now, get this. It's about the mother-daughter relationship, not an uncommon theme, so that's not a problem.
BUT when she uses the word mauve relating to cosmetics, she has a mother that is mentally ill (mine is an aunt), she has a scene where the main character ponders on rabbit bones and looks at them lined up on a windowsill, along with rocks and stones, and a few other seemingly small things but which all add up to one humungous
and you have the same fucking stuff in your book, then what else can you think but
I have put the book down. I am a little over half way through. And I don't know what to do.
Because it is such a good book, and mine is trifling in comparison. I want to finish it, I am loving it, but then what happens with my book, I have toiled over it for more than 12 months, and which started as a seed a few years ago?
No matter that my mother loved it, and my sister.
No matter that my father sent through his response last night and said things like "I have finished reading your first novel. It's sure to be up for a Miles Franklin! I loved it."
Know that my dad is not an exclamation mark kind of guy. Know too that my dad does not use the word "love" lightly. He is not into hyperbole and I have never really felt that he's been big on the building up of a daughter's self-esteem. He's never taken the care to do all that, never thought to maybe, he is not a nurturer of a small girl's dreams. So when he says something like that, it's pretty enormous.
So, dear readers, what the hell do I do now?
I've organised for a professional manuscript assessment, need to send it off around mid-March.
I have to stay true to it, don't I? I shouldn't panic and go running around trying to change shit.
Well, I guess in a way it's validation, but she's done it so much better than me.